The Feature: Slippery French Artist Pretends His Life Is a Movie

Eurotrash? Art-world parasite? Smack-dabbling bluebeard? Warhol wannabe? Compulsive no-talent video diarist? It's hard to know where to begin with Michel Auder, born in 1944 and a minor French footnote to Andy Warhol's Factory. A few facts are known: Auder first married Warhol protégée Viva, producing a daughter, and later artist Cindy Sherman. Beyond his many prior video shorts and installations, he also shot one feature, Chasing the Dragon (1987), starring Eric Bogosian as an artist-junkie very much like the director. But The Feature, co-directed by Andrew Neel, comes labeled as a "fictionalized biography," which could be deemed artistic license or a strategy to avoid libel suits and copyright issues. New footage provides a framing device: Auder, a seemingly wealthy hedonist, is married (again) to a much younger woman; he announces he's got a fatal brain tumor, which he doesn't intend to treat. He then narrates his life—culled from four decades of footage into an untidy three hours—in the third person. Yes, readers, this is torture...and yet also a repellently fascinating bohemian soap opera. (Take plenty of cigarette and cell phone breaks; trust me, you'll need the intermissions.) There on the periphery are boldface names like Warhol, Yoko Ono, the late artists Larry Rivers and Alice Neel (grandmother of co-director Andrew), Madonna, Roman Polanski, and Sharon Tate (I think—much of the video stock is quite murky and decayed). But at the center is always Auder, whose self-justification is inseparable from his possibly sincere self-indictment. As he ages from handsome young Gaul to pervy, paunchy old dude, we see him naked at every stage of life. He also films his daughter's birth, his fucking prostitutes, eating, sleeping, smoking heroin, and so on. At the two-hour point of this narcissistic marathon, I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd next showed us a bowel movement and wiped his ass on camera. (I'll leave that for you to guess.) World's worst movie? Not without a Rob Schneider cameo. World's worst husband and father? Maybe that's a new award category the Academy should consider.

 
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